I have to admit, these drumsticks were not totally my idea.
First, there were these Caveman Pops (aka Roasted Turkey Legs) over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks. And they sure did look tasty.
Then, there were these Berbere Roasted Chicken Legs over at Gluten Free Girl. Her description of berbere, with its ginger and garlic and cardamom and chiles, made my mouth water.
And then there were the two packages of chicken drumsticks that I had in my freezer, gently calling my name, asking to be brined and spiced and roasted.
What? Your chicken doesn’t talk to you from your freezer?
The key to this recipe – the thing that takes it from typical weeknight chicken to something worthy of sharing – is the brine. It does something to the chicken, elevates it somehow. The combination of apple cider, sugar, salt and ginger really takes this chicken to the next level, imparting flavor all the way through to the bone and leaving the meat moist and tender. And then the spice rub, which is one of my own devising, added a nice spicy kick to the whole thing.
The only drawback is that you have to plan ahead a little. The drumsticks have to sit in the brine for at least 2 hours, and then they take about 30-45 minutes to cook. So, this is not a last-minute meal, but it is relatively simple. And I promise it’s worth it
Apple Cider Brined Drumsticks
prep time: 2 hours
cook time: 35 minutes
- 10 organic drumsticks
- 2 quarts apple cider
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 finger of fresh ginger (about the length of my thumb), thinly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dry rub of your choice (see my mix below)
- Place drumsticks in a gallon-sized zip-top bag
- Prepare the brine
- Place cider, sugar, salt, ginger and bay leaf in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar and salt have dissolved
- Allow to cool slightly, then pour over chicken in bag and seal, taking care to squeeze out most of the air as you do
- Place in the refrigerator and let sit for at least 2 hours
- Preheat your oven to 400F
- After two hours have elapsed, place drumsticks on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle with dry rub on all sides
- If you like, place the brine back in the saucepan and let it come to a boil and reduce it slightly. Brush this on the drumsticks before and halfway through roasting
- Place the drumsticks in the preheated oven and let bake for 15 minutes
- After 15 minutes have elapsed, brush the drumsticks with the reduced brine if desired, turn them over, and bake for another 20 minutes
- Remove them from the oven and enjoy!
We served ours with some cheddar mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli for a relatively simple weeknight meal. I did remove the skin from the drumsticks I gave to the kids because the dry rub made them a tad spicy. If your kids tolerate heat, I think they’d love these. My kids left nothing but gnawed leg bones on their plates, so the lack of skin certainly didn’t seem to bother them.
Dry Rub Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
- 1 tablespoon red chile flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried ginger
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard
- Place all ingredients in a spice grinder and grind.
- Use as desired.